My Morning Jacket’s new album, “The Waterfall,” incorporates their signature spacey sound with a bright optimism making it one of the band’s best so far. It combines some of the country elements of their earliest work with their more recent psychedelic experimentation.
A swirling, sunny synthesizer opens with first track “Believe (Nobody Knows).” A gentle walk in the park builds up to the refrain which bursts into a triumph that carries through the rest of the song.
“Compound Fracture” mellows the triumphant tone of “Believe” while retaining an optimistic and contented tone.
“Like a River” is one of the more pensive, eerie tracks of the album. The happiness of the previous two tracks stops here to think and reflect.
“In its Infancy” is a personal favorite of mine. It opens with the summoning sound of guitar power chords and rhythmic symbols that quiet briefly for a haunting electric piano. The intensity builds when the drums join in once again for the chorus of the song. A wobbling synthesizer later in the track adds a powerful spacey underscore to the guitar solo. The combination of these elements creates a unique sound that resonates in a way that the listener won’t soon forget.
“Get the Point” brings more acoustic instruments and a heartbreaking romanticism. The echoes of a slide guitar remind me very slightly of country music. The line “I wish you all the love in this world and beyond,” is a bittersweet goodbye that pairs uncomfortably with a later line, “The thrill is gone.”
“Spring (Among the Living)” begins with Jim James’ soaring yet intimate vocals. The guitar solo paired with the wordless vocals later in the song create a floating effect like being carried by the wind. Those same vocals close out the song with an eerie echo.
“Thin Line” relaxes with a reverb heavy guitar and echoing lyrics. The line “Crazy diamonds, Head out towards the sea,” parallels and alludes to Pink Floyd, a predecessor and glorious ancestor to ambitious, spacey albums.
“Big Decisions” tells us exactly the same thing the title does. It is not angry, but it is intense with a very conscious need to end confusion.
“Tropics (Erase Traces)” builds up from the opening guitar and easily slides into second place. It builds to an addition of drums, which adds intensity. The track plateaus with a simple yet captivating guitar solo, and ends with the plaintive guitar that introduced it.
“Only Memories Remain,” the last track of the album, is underscored by a hypnotizing guitar riff. As the song that closes out the collection, it leaves the listeners with a wave of nostalgic longing.
My Morning Jacket is one of the most original rock bands creating music today. Their nostalgia for psychedelia and progressive rock blends perfectly with creative songwriting and the ability to construct powerful atmospheres in their music. Anyone with an appreciation for powerful and spacey rock music should become acquainted with this album.